The Washington Wizards appeared to be planning for the future with a series of moves in front of Thursday's trade deadline that shipped key veterans out of town and brought back expiring deals and salary cap relief. The Wizards will try to end a three-game slide when they trot out a new lineup against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
Washington, which learned this week that All-Star John Wall, who had already been ruled out for the remainder of this season, could miss most or all of the 2019-20 campaign after rupturing his Achilles tendon and responded by trading away veteran frontcourt starters Otto Porter Jr. on Wednesday and Markieff Morris on Thursday. "This trade gives us a veteran wing player and former first-round pick in Wesley (Johnson), who will add experience and shooting to our bench," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement after dealing Morris. "Markieff was an important part of our team during his time here and we appreciate his contributions over the last four seasons." The Cavaliers were active on the trade market as well and made their moves in the same manner, clearing space to stay below the luxury tax and position themselves for a potential top draft pick. Cleveland, which is fighting off the New York Knicks to avoid the worst record in the Eastern Conference, dropped its last two games and is embarking on a two-game road trip.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Ohio, NBCS Washington LINE: Wizards -10
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (11-43): Cleveland sent Alec Burks to the Sacramento Kings in a three-team deal late Wednesday, marking the final move in a series that saw them send away veterans Kyle Korver, Rodney Hood, George Hill and Sam Dekker already this season. "It's tough as a player to see like, 'OK, there goes our starting two and three, however you want to look at it, and we're getting back picks for it?' It's like, 'Well, I need somebody to pass the ball to,'" forward Larry Nance Jr. told reporters. "It's hard to see that as a player, but as a front office, that's their job and that's your job to see things that we can't." The Cavaliers are soon expected to get a pair of veterans back in the frontcourt with center Tristan Thompson (foot) and power forward Kevin Love (toe) nearing returns.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (22-32): Washington learned of the Porter deal before playing at the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday and clearly missed him on the defensive end in a 148-129 loss. The Wizards, who also traded away small forward Kelly Oubre Jr. earlier in the season, allowed at least 131 points in each of the last three games - all losses. "It's been a heck of a week, I'll tell you that," center Thomas Bryant told the Washington Post. "Just dealing with injuries and guys being traded, guys getting injured, but we've just got to stick together."
1. The Cavaliers acquired PF Marquese Chriss and PG Brandon Knight from the Houston Rockets in the three-team deal that sent Burks to Sacramento.
2. Wizards PFs Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, who were acquired in the Porter deal, could make their team debuts on Friday.
3. Cleveland took two of the first three meetings but fell 119-95 at Washington on Nov. 14.
PREDICTION: Wizards 123, Cavaliers 119 Bet Now
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